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Cleaners in govt departments get added protections

28 March 2008

Cleaners in govt departments get added protections

The government is supporting moves to raise workplace standards and protections for cleaners in the property services industry, with government departments to adopt a set of principles for all new contracts from April 1.

"These principles were developed by representatives from property services contractors, property owners, unions and wider business interests, who saw they needed to do something to stop the decline in standards in the industry," Labour Minister Trevor Mallard said today.

The Principles for a Sustainable Property Services Industry was signed by Trevor Mallard, the Service and Food Workers Union (SFWU), Building Services Contractors Association of New Zealand (BSCNZ), the Property Council of New Zealand (PCNZ), at an event at parliament today, witnessed by a group of parliament's cleaners.

The signing of the document also follows a campaign by the Service and Food Workers Union called Cleanstart – which was aimed at securing better workplace protections for cleaners.

"Traditionally, the property services industry consists of low union membership, employees on low wages, tenuous job security and a high staff turnover rate. The sector is also highly competitive and there have been difficulties with recruiting, retaining and training staff, establishing sound health and safety practices, and fair pay. So the signing of this agreement, aimed at lifting workplace standards, is an important development," Trevor Mallard said.

"The Labour-led government has agreed that the core public service should take the lead and support socially responsible and ethical practices. All new or renegotiated cleaning contracts government departments enter into with cleaning and property service providers from 1 April 2008 will comply with these principles.

"I hope other employers and contractors outside the public service will follow this lead. The wider benefits of these principles include consistent ethical procurement practices, consistent approaches to collective bargaining, improved health and safety standards, improved quality of services, and better opportunities for career development in the property services industry."

A copy of the Principles for a Sustainable Property Services Industry is at www.swfu.org.nz

ENDS

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